Workers cleared a pedestrian bridge that collapsed on the N3 highway in Johannesburg. Picture: THE TIMES
Workers cleared a pedestrian bridge that collapsed on the N3 highway in Johannesburg. Picture: THE TIMES

Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi on Thursday morning visited the site of the N3 bridge collapse‚ just hours after the road was reopened well ahead of schedule.

Initially‚ it was estimated that the highway — which was completely blocked in both directions near the Geldenhuys interchange — was expected to be closed for two days. But demolition teams and clean-up crews had it cleared and open to traffic by 6am on Thursday.

Five people were injured in the collapse. Two of them have been discharged from hospital, but one of them is in a medically induced coma.

Maswanganyi was on the site shortly before 7am‚ conducting an inspection with members of the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) board‚ Sanral CEO Skhumbuzo Macozoma‚ senior officials of the Gauteng roads and transport department and the Ekurhuleni municipality.

Sanral confirmed that its teams worked through the night to have the road cleared.

"Sanral engineers and its demolition team worked flat-out yesterday until just past midnight to break down the remainder of the collapsed bridge and remove the rubble from the scene.

"This is a high-volume traffic road with almost 200‚000 vehicles passing through a day. Keeping the road closed on a normal business day would have frustrated many motorists," Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona said.

"We are relieved that we managed to clear the debris and open the road in less than the 48 hours we had anticipated."

Mona also wished the five people injured in the collapse a speedy recovery.

The exact cause of the bridge collapse is being investigated‚ but there is speculation that it was linked to an earth tremor caused by an illegal mine collapsing or by a truck crashing into the disused pedestrian bridge.

Macozoma said on Thursday that Sanral had inspected the pedestrian bridge last year and declared it structurally sound.

“There was nothing that we found that would have caused the bridge to collapse on its own‚ so there must have been something that caused the bridge to collapse‚” said Macozoma.

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